Turkish team has special sponsor to pay for Williams

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This is the second time in two years that Besiktas — a team that finished sixth in a Turkish league that is not considered one of the top divisions in Europe — landed and paid for a big time NBA star.

Last year it was Allen Iverson, a future Hall of Fame player but a guy well past his prime now. This time it is Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the game at the peak of his career.

How are they paying for all this? Williams is going to be paid between $200,000 a month and $5 million for the season (reports are varied, to say the least). Either way that is a lot more than a team like this should be able to take on — especially a team that had to deal with a brief players’ strike last season when payroll was not met (except for Iverson).

According to Besiktas’ coach Ergin Ataman, they have a way, which he explained when he spoke with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

Of course during the years with some agents, there was some problem about some situations, but in Besiktas club, also in football (soccer), we have a good team. We have Guti (Jose Maria Gutierrez Hernandez), we have Quaresma (Ricardo Andrade Quaresma Bernardo), we have Fernandes (Manuel Henriques Tavares Fernandes), they are the biggest names in the European soccer market. This is the same president, the same management. It’s not separated from Besiktas football and basketball. We don’t have any problems.

Last year on our team … maybe sometimes there are some [checks] late — maybe one week, 10 days, maybe one month, only one time. But now, everybody can take his money. And in this situation, this is also completely different for Deron Williams because we have a special sponsor — a separate sponsor from the team. This is a different situation. This is not included in the club budget. This is a special situation, and also will be for Kobe and other star players if they come to play for Besiktas.

The coach did not name the company, other than to say it was one of the ones the president of the club has (he apparently has several).

Besiktas is milking this for all the publicity they can. The players union is milking this for all they can. We’ll see in September what it really all amounts to.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.